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Reconnect with your Spouse! – Upcoming “Hold Me Tight” Couples Class

Are you tired of reading relationship books with a few tips and advice that may put a band aid on your marital discourse?  Dr. Sue Johnson, author of Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations For A Lifetime Of Love, relationship researcher and expert, believes that the attachment bond individuals have with their partners is crucial for a happy, healthy relationship.   Just as an infant feels close, attached, and loved when her mother gazes in her eyes, adults have the same need.  We innately feel a desire to connect, be loved, depended on, and to feel safe.  When the attachment is insecure with our spouse or partner, there is greater likelihood for disconnection, isolation, and distance.  Hold Me Tight looks to address that attachment bond.

Wasatch Family Therapy is pleased to announce that we are, once again, offering a Hold Me Tight workshop.  Based on Dr. Sue Johnson’s Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) approach. An approach in which empirical research shows that 70-75% of couples move from distress to recovery. The workshop will take readers through the following seven transforming conversations:

  • Recognizing Demon Dialogues
  • Finding the Raw Spots
  • Revisiting a Rocky Moment
  • Hold Me Tight
  • Forgiving Injuries
  • Bonding Through Sex and Touch
  • Keeping Your Love Alive

Join us, Alice Roberts, CSW and Tekulve Jackson-Vann, LMFT, for this six-week course beginning Tuesday nights on January 8th in the Cottonwood Heights location from 6:30-8:30 p.m.  Register now and find the emotional connection that can come as partners reach for one another, holding tight.

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Who is the Enemy?

(C) Canstock Photo

Sometimes in our love relationships, we have been hurt or let down so often by our partner that we begin to develop an adversarial relationship. We are always on guard to protect ourselves from further pain. Our relationship becomes us vs. them in an attempt to wall off our heart from the one who knows us best, and therefore knows how to hurt us the most. Most of the time in these situations, our partner isn’t trying to hurt us. Our partner is hurting themselves and like us, is trying to protect from further pain.

In the book Love Sense, Dr. Sue Johnson describes what happens in these relationships:

“When emotional starvation becomes the norm, and negative patterns of outraged criticism and obstinate defensiveness take over, our perspective changes. Our lover slowly begins to feel like an enemy; our most familiar friend turns into a stranger. Trust dies, and grief begins in earnest.”

She goes on to say that the “erosion of a bond begins with the absence of emotional support”. This is key. In order to keep our most important relationships strong and healthy, we have to actively work on being an emotional support for our partner. We need to be there for them, and we need them to be there for us. Emotional supportiveness creates a teammate mentality. Instead of problems turning into us vs. them scenarios, they are approached with the couple as a team, facing the enemy (or the negative cycle) together.

One roadblock in our ability to be there emotionally with our partner is our hurt and anger.
Anger is a secondary emotion. Its purpose is to act as a shield, protecting our more vulnerable (primary) emotions. If my husband doesn’t call me when he said he would, it’s easier for me to lash out at him in my attempt to make sure he knows how hurt I am. My lashing out is likely to cause him to feel defensive and respond with anger of his own (because he is also using anger as a shield to protect himself). If I take a moment to breathe, and calm myself before commenting on his missed phone call, I might say something like, “when you don’t call me when you say you will, I feel really hurt. I worry that I’m not important to you, and you mean so much to me that it hurts in my chest to think that I don’t matter to you.”

Instead of expressing my secondary emotion, anger, I’m expressing my primary emotion. Fear. Fear that I don’t matter to my partner as much as he matters to me. I’m being vulnerable and asking my partner to reassure me and be vulnerable in return.

If my partner responds to my vulnerability with criticism, it reinforces my view that he is not a safe person to turn to, and the emotional bond is further damaged. If he responds with reassurance, the emotional bond can be strengthened. “I’m so sorry I didn’t call. I got so busy with my meetings that I forgot. I know it means a lot to you that I call when I say I will, and I’m sorry I let you down. You do mean so much to me.”

Dr. Johnson describes three questions that we can ask ourselves and our partners when we are working to strengthen or repair our emotional bonds.

1. Are you Accessible? (Will you give me your attention and be emotionally open to what I am saying?)

2. Are you Responsive? (Will you accept my needs and fears and offer comfort and caring?)

3. Are you Engaged? (Will you be emotionally present and involved with me?)

Dr. Johnson combines these into one “core attachment question”. ARE you there for me?

Sit down with your partner and talk about these questions. Do you feel like your partner is accessible, responsive, and engaged? Are you accessible, responsive, and engaged with your partner? When have you been successful at answering “ARE you there for me”? When have you struggled? Think about the last struggle and look for the primary emotions under the struggle. Try being vulnerable with each other.

The stronger our emotional bond, the easier it is to deal with the frustrations that crop up in every relationship. Sometimes the damage in our relationships has gone on for so long, or is so emotionally painful that we need help in repairing it. Couple’s therapy can help break the cycle of negative interactions and allow emotional bonds to be rebuilt stronger than ever.

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Two Books Every Couple Should Read

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Relationship maintenance is one of the most important things couples can do to create and “maintain” emotional intimacy. This maintenance comes in many forms. Some couples have regular date nights. Others have daily talk time. Often times one or both people read self help books about strengthening the relationship. Many of the couples I work with, and come across in my personal life, ask me about books they can read that will give them skills to strengthen their relationship. Here are two books I think every couple, happy or in distress, should read.
The first is The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. This book takes you through five ways that people show and feel love. The five love languages are quality time, physical touch, words of affirmation, service, and gift giving. This book takes you through the these five love languages and helps you identify which love language speaks to you. Read this with your partner. Once both of you are done and have properly identified your love language, share it with the other person. I use this idea in every couples session. The hope is that once you know your partners love language you can start speaking directly to what they need in the relationship. Someone who has the love language of quality time, but is given gifts will not feel properly loved and connected to their partner. This book gives invaluable insight into yourself and your partner that can strengthen every relationship.
The second is Hold Me Tight by Dr. Sue Johnson. This is a fantastic book that teaches you about attachment and reconnection with your partner. It has seven fabulous “conversations” for you and your partner to work through. If you are looking for emotional intimacy with your partner this is the book you are looking for. It is educational and highly effective at healing past wounds within relationships. Even if you and your partner have a healthy and loving relationship this book can still be a tool in creating a stronger bond.
Many couples feel that going to therapy, or even reading books like these shows a weakness in the relationship. My frame is that attending therapy and reading books to better your relationship is a strength; it means you and your partner are willing to put hard time and effort into being better individually and together. These couples are the ones that have relationships that will last. Hopefully you have the time to pick up these two books and give them a try. Read them with openness along side your spouse and they can make a world of difference.
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Human Relationships: Our Emotional Safe Haven

Safe Haven

When my mother began raising her family nearly 60 years ago, the conventional wisdom could be encapsulated by statements such as “Children are to be seen and not heard,” “Big boys don’t cry, ” and “If you hold a baby too much, you will spoil her.” So it should have come as no surprise to me when I was caring for my fist baby nearly 25 years ago that her advice was “You just need to let that baby cry…….it will help his lungs develop.” That counsel felt wrong in my soul and was contrary to everything that I had been taught in both my undergraduate and graduate training. Mother’s often know best, but in this case my mother was dead wrong!!! (I still love you, Mom!!!)

There was a time when the “sage advice” that my mother offered was unquestionably in line with the “best practices” in parenting; the underlying belief being that if parent’s responded to their children’s emotional outbursts that would lead to dangerous spoiling of one’s off-spring and would undermine the goal of fashioning independent and strong adults who were prepared to face the harsh realities of the world. Thanks, however, to the work of a brilliant British psychiatrist by the name of John Bowlby and a host of other “attachment based” researchers who followed, today we know that one of the primary tasks of parenthood runs contrary to that old conventional wisdom and requires that effective parents “attune to” or respond, tune in to, show empathy and understanding for their child’s ever changing emotional state and, thereby, a strong parent-child bond is formed. Countless research studies demonstrate that children who are fortunate enough to have formed a strong emotional connection to a primary care giver are more confident, secure and capable of facing that harsh world – completely contrary to the notion that responding to children’s emotionality would actually create weak and dependent adults. We now know that this strong bond creates for a child, what is known to attachment theorists and therapists, a “safe haven.” With this safe haven in place, a child can go out into the big, bad world and face whatever dangers might be lurking there with the assurance that at the end of the day, someone is at home awaiting their return – prepared to lick and bind up whatever wounds the day’s adventures may have inflicted.

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Looking for a Lifetime of Love?

Looking for a Lifetime of Love?

I recently began reading  a book by one of my favorite clinical Psychologists, Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) founder, Dr. Sue Johnson.   Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love will give you greater insight into the defining principles of your relationship togetherness and can help you create an even deeper bond.  In this book, Johnson presents Emotionally Focused Therapy with the belief that motivated couples may be able to solve their own problems within their relationships once they understand the basic principles.  The premise of Hold Me Tight is surprisingly simple: stop worrying about your past, or what you feel that your partner is lacking. Johnson states that the trick to a long lasting, healthy, committed relationship starts with understanding that codependency is a good thing, similarly to how a child relies on a parent for love and nurturing.  Be open to your loved one’s needs, and you’ll reconnect naturally and lovingly. Hold Me Tight walks you through seven conversations that capture the defining moments in a love relationship and instructs how to shape these moments to create a secure and lasting bond.

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This Week at WFT 3/31/14

ThisweekatWFT

Julie Hanks on Rewind 100.7 with Todd and Erin

Monday, March 24th, 7:10 am

Mondays at 7:10 am, Julie joins The Todd & Erin Morning Show on Rewind 100.7.

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This Week at WFT 3/10/14

ThisweekatWFT

 

Clair Mellenthin, LCSW on KUTV Fresh Living

Monday, March 20, 1 pm

Clair joins KUTV Fresh Living to discuss How To Talk to Grieving Parents. Learn what you should and shouldn’t be saying to parents who have lost a child.

6 Week Hold Me Tight Couples Workshop Davis County

Monday, March 10, 6 pm

Developed by Dr. Sue Johnson, and based on her book “Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations For A Lifetime Of Love” this couples workshop is based on the most effective and successful couples therapy ever developed. Learn what your spouse really needs from you and how to defeat the cycle of distance between you to create the relationship of your dreams!
Register for our upcoming Hold Me Tight Weekend Workshop on April 25th & 26th!

Julie Hanks, LCSW on Studio 5

Wednesday, March 12, 1 pm

Julie appears on Studio 5 to teach you How to Set Boundaries with Difficult people. Tune in for Julie’s tips on keeping your boundaries with someone who may consistently try pushing them.

K.I.D.S Social Skills Group

Friday, March 7, 5 pm

Designed for school-aged children, this group will provide opportunities to learn how to navigate of social situations and understand what it means to be a friend. Through activities and skill building group members will practice building healthy relationships.
Register your child for the KIDS group!

Julie Hanks, LCSW Speaking at the Women in Leadership Scholarship Conference

Saturday, March 15, 12:30 pm

Julie Hanks will provide the luncheon address to Utah County high school, senior girls sharing with them to celebrate the theme “Your Voice Can Make A Difference.” This is a private event held by Women in Leadership.

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This Week at WFT 3/3/14

ThisweekatWFT

 

6 Week Hold Me Tight Couples Workshop Davis County

Monday, March 3, 6 pm

Developed by Dr. Sue Johnson, and based on her book “Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations For A Lifetime Of Love” this couples workshop is based on the most effective and successful couples therapy ever developed. Learn what your spouse really needs from you and how to defeat the cycle of distance between you to create the relationship of your dreams!

K.I.D.S Social Skills Group

Friday, March 7, 5 pm

Designed for school-aged children, this group will provide opportunities to learn how to navigate of social situations and understand what it means to be a friend. Through activities and skill building group members will practice building healthy relationships.
Register your child for the KIDS group

Clair Mellenthin, LCSW on A Woman’s View With Amanda Dickson

Sunday, March 9

Clair joins Amanda Dickson’s radio program A Woman’s View to discuss current events.

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This Week at Wasatch Family Therapy 2/24/14

ThisweekatWFT

Clair Mellenthin, LCSW on KUTV Fresh Living

Monday, February 24, 1 pm

Clair Mellenthin joins Fresh Living to discuss “Stopping the Mommy Wars!”

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This Week At Wasatch Family Therapy 2/10/14

This Week At Wasatch Family Therapy 2/10/14

Clair Mellenthin, LCSW on KUTV Fresh Living: Love and The 5 Love Languages

Monday, February 10, 1 pm

As Valentine’s Day approaches, it might be helpful to understand the “language” that your special someone speaks. Tune in at 1 pm today as Clair Mellenthin discusses love and how people express love through their “love language.”

Julie Hanks, LCSW on KSL Studio 5: Supporting Early-Return LDS Missionaries

Tuesday, February 11, 1 pm

Many missionaries and family members often struggle when they are unable to complete their LDS mission. Tune in a 1 pm and join Dr. Kris Doty and Julie Hanks as they discuss the best ways to support an early-return missionary.

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